Well, there you have it. For those of you wondering what a pure comedy episode of The Walking Dead looks like (and to be honest, we’ll have to admit we never even imagined such a thing), this is probably as close as the show’s ever going to get. It’s certainly much closer than the show’s ever come to such a thing. In fact, if you added up every comedy moment in the entire series prior to last night, you’d equal the first ten or 15 minutes of this episode. It was … weird. We want to say “Especially after last week’s episode,” but in retrospect, you can see how that little bloodbath actually set the show on a path where it could take the time to do something like this. Despite the usual death and mayhem of last week, the episode ended on moments of hope and triumph. This was a perfect opportunity to do a time jump forward, which is exactly what allowed them the opportunity to have so much fun this week.
And if you added up every romantic moment in the show’s history, you’d equal about 3 seconds of that Rick and Michonne scene. We have to admit, they got us with that one. We didn’t see it coming, right up to the very last second. Literally: “Wow, they’re really throwing a bone to the Rick and Michonne shipp– Oh!” This worked surprisingly well in that “they set this up perfectly/this came out of nowhere” way that sometimes happens when friends just sort of morph into romantic partners. We didn’t have to see Rick and Michonne paired up. We’ve never been big on shipping, ourselves. But as soon as it happened, we kind of liked what it meant, both in terms of story possibilities and in terms of the basic philosophy of the show. That philosophy, as we’ve complained many times over the years, has always been somewhat unrelentingly dark. To have two of its most hardened, some might even say “damaged” characters choose to pursue what looks to be for all intents and purposes a perfectly blended and happy family situation (not to be mean, but Michonne is more of a mother to Carl than Lori ever was), says a lot about the show’s potential for depicting hope and optimism without betraying the story.
Similarly, there was a bit of a fakeout with Carl that was meant to make us believe he was somehow damaged from his — well, from everything cumulatively, we suppose. But instead of snapping and taunting walkers, he was showing enormous empathy as the only other person in the story who knows first hand how important it was for Spencer to finish his quest to find his mother, finish her off, and bury her. This is how a community operates. Or as Michonne put it, in keeping with the overriding theme of the episode, a family.
Sure, we all know this is all going to go to shit – again – and there’s no guarantee that Rick and Michonne have any real future as a couple (although we’d be shocked if the show killed either of them any time soon), but we’ve always believed it was essential for the show to at least have some moments of people just being people rather than being desperate people or terrified people or starving people or that old favorite, people pushed past all the physical and emotional limits a human being can possibly stand. For a story as unrelentingly pessimistic as this one, you really have to give your audience a break every now and then and let the characters breath and just … be.
In a similar vein, it was surprisingly enjoyable if not downright refreshing to have our heroes encounter a shady, possibly dangerous person out in the world, a situation that has, in the past resulted in attempted rapes, murders and even cannibalism – only to have the whole thing turn into a farce worthy of the 3 Stooges, except with guns and one really impressive martial artist. Jesus has arrived, you see. And we have to say, his was easily one of the best character introductions the show has ever pulled off. Like we said, this will all go to shit eventually – and probably very soon – but this was a fun way to move the story forward, introduce new characters, deepen some existing ones, and most important of all, raise the stakes on the question of what our characters are fighting for. With each passing episode inside Alexandria, it becomes obvious why any of them would die defending it.
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[Photo Credit: AMC Television]